Friday, April 15, 2011

The New Face of Opus Dei?

We admit it: we've always had a soft spot for Madonna. In the beginning, it was easy enough to explain. We're about the same age, so her first rush of fame coincided with our misspent youth. Her public persona, at least, was all sex with a little religion thrown in. It's kind of Eggy, or would be if she had sung a few more madrigals.

Over the years, that soft spot has become ever-more difficult to justify, and in fact we don't recall actually hearing any of her music after ... well, "Music." We had hoped she would just retire and become a Garbo-style legend, quietly breeding horses in the Midlands and dribbling her fortune out to worthy causes. But she's a shade too narcissistic for that. So even as we have tried to look away, she has remained there, on the margins of our consciousness, a living reminder of our dubious youthful taste. As Hamlet says, "Ex-nymphette, in thine aging biceps are all my sins remembered."

Anyway, the latest word is that she has moved away from Kabbalah and started spending time with Opus Dei, the personal prelature that is not a cult, is not a crypto-fascist boot camp, and is not as bad as people make it sound. It couldn't be.

On balance, we consider this good news. We liked her better as a tortured Catholic.

Still, we have to wonder what she is looking for. A return to her heritage? We hope so. A chance to mingle with the fans? Given the number of gay men said to be in some seminaries, quite possibly. Some bald albino assassins for her next video? One never knows.


Nixon is Lord said...

Why are there a disproportionately large number of gays in the clergy?

Father Anonymous said...

I don't actually know that there are. I was making a dumb joke, which plays off a common stereotype of Roman Catholic seminaries (and Madonna fans).

Now, there is *some* evidence that this stereotype reflects reality. Some Roman Catholic seminaries, both in the US and Europe, are reported to be home to a large number of gay men, both as students and as professors. But these reports (both the researched kind and the rumored kind) are hotly debated, and I doubt anybody knows for sure.

If true, then why? No real idea. I used to think that it had to do with guilt and celibacy -- that guys who felt so badly about their sexual impulses that they resolved not to act on them were naturally drawn to a vocation which would strongly encourage the path they had already chosen. But the most extreme reports, at least, make it sound as though that is not at all the case.

Among mainline Protestants, a group I know far better, I doubt that the proportion of gay and lesbian clergy is significantly higher than in the general population. Given the fairly strong disincentives still in place, it may even be a little lower. More than a rodeo, less than Fashion Week, if I had to guess. And of course, nobody agrees on the statistics anyway, so it's all guesswork.